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Saying Grace: A Prayer of Thanksgiving (Traditions of Faith) Hardcover – September 1, 2009
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'Ladwig sets the tale in a colonial-era New England town, suffusing his images with the yellows and golds of autumn and enveloping Grace in a gentle halo. Aesthetically informed by its message, it will appeal to its target audience.' -- ~Kirkus Reviews <br><br> (~Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Virginia Kroll is the author of over fifty books for children and winner of a 2004 Children's choice award. A former elementary school teacher, she lives in New York with her husband and has raised six children of her own.
Timothy Ladwig is an illustrator whose recent books include Saying Grace, Jubilee, and Tonight You are My Baby. He lives in Wichita, Kansas, with his wife, Leah, and three children.
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The book opens in a Pilgrim village in the 17th century. A young girl named Grace is worried about the coming winter, which neighbors seem to think will be a harsh one. Grace remembers that during another harsh winter, her sister was born premature and nearly didn't survive - and her father barely made it home in a blizzard. The village also lost many to pnenomia. Grace doesn't think she go through such harships again.
Her friend Hannah says, ""You're a fretter, Grace," and her mother tells her, "Stop fretting and say a prayer instead."
When winter snows come, Grace goes to her room and reads the Psalms. "Please send us a gentle winter," she prays. Her prayer is answered; the winter isn't harsh, and soon spring comes and Grace is working in the family garden. When harvest time arrives, one young man in the village marries a woman from another village. She tells them her people have a tradition of a harvest feast. Grace's village decides to adopt this idea.
As Grace works hard to prepare for the feast, she notices how squirrels with nuts in their hands look like they are praying and how gulls seem to be praising God in song. When her village gathers for the feast, she stops them: "Shouldn't we first say thank you to God and ask a blessing?" Everyone thinks this is a great idea and they ask Grace to do the honors.
"From that day forward, at every meal the family took turns 'saying grace.' Mama often quoted verses from the Bible. Papa talked to God as if he were an old friend, seated right there with them...Grace wrote several new prayer-poems of her own. Sometimes she used words like bounty and giving. But she never, ever forgot the thanks."
What I Like: Grace is a true-to-life character, complete with flaws. I love how she learns to trust God by reading his word and giving up her concerns in prayer. This story is also a fun way to imagine how the phrase "saying grace" might have come about. The illustrations by Timothy Ladwig are full of rich autumn scenes.
What I Dislike: Nothing, really, although I think the book would be stronger if we learned that God doesn't always say "yes" to our prayers.
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Christian Children's Book Review
However, I found this book completely unrealistic. Grace lives in a household that 1) has a Bible, 2) encourages the children to pray and trust God, 3) names their children Grace and Isaiah (both found in Scripture), 4) jokes about needing an ark during heavy rain (thus showing their familiarity with and 4) praises God for his mercy (exact quote: "Mama praised God for his mercy") yet her family doesn't thank God before eating their food? Her parents' (and her whole community's) ignorance of before-meal prayers is both historically inaccurate and inconsistent with the behavior of the characters earlier in the book.
In an introduction to the book, the author says that the custom of saying grace before or after meals was "widely practiced as early as biblical times" but then says, "Where did this tradition come from? The practice might have started in North America during the 1600s with an early settler like the girl in my fictional story." How can both be true? Of course, it didn't START in North America with a child thinking it up all on her own. If the author wanted to write about a child helping her family learn to pray, she could have made her protagonist be in a non-religious family or in one whose sufferings and losses in the New World had hardened their hearts toward God until their child helped them appreciate his blessings. But that is NOT the family that the author describes: they are biblically literate and thus, in the context of history, would have known to offer public thanks to God, as we have historic record of in writings like that of William Bradford,for example.
(Additional inaccuracies include a picture of a schoolhouse situated alone in the woods, perhaps common in the 1800s but not in the early 1600s in which this story is placed, and a child mentioning that she and her friend are in the "third level" in school. I could be wrong, but that didn't seem right for this time period.)
I love a good fictional story, especially one that teaches Biblical truths, but I was disappointed by the historical inaccuracies and the literary inconsistencies in this book, so much so that I am not keeping it, despite the beautiful pictures. I deeply respect the sacrifices of the early Puritan and Separatist colonists, and a book depicting them should not take the kind of liberties that this book does.
Having twin girls...I could related to the interaction and thoughts of our little heroine, Grace. The book is designed for children 4-8 and will incorporate the spirit of the pilgrims and the joy of giving thanks into one enjoyable story. I did find that there were a few words or thoughts that I had to explain to my daughterfurther from them to comprehend. But it did not damper the story or our enjoyment of the book.
Grace is a very thoughtful young girl who knows that when "worry" knocks we should get down on our knees and pray. This was a first look into the "pioneer" era for my girls and itintriqued them. Grace's lifestyle is so different then our own but her desire to bless the Lord and her faith in His provision are inspiring. Saying Grace: A Prayer of Thanksgiving (Traditions of Faith)